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Dr-David-Banner

Maths

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Sanctuary

Although it wasn't part of my courses at school and college I've long had a curiosity about Applied Maths (Mechanics). I did try learning it at home but couldn't get to grips with it at all. In part this may be because I don't have a background in Physics, Engineering or other technical subjects unlike most students of Applied Maths. I'm not a technically-minded person and my spatial skills are poor. Once Maths moves into solids and three dimensions I find it much more difficult. Given that many people with AS have weaker spatial skills this may apply to others but I'm aware that there are plenty of people on the spectrum who are very comfortable and skilled in spatial and technical areas. What we may tend to see is not that those with AS are overall less able in Maths than the wider population (indeed the opposite may be true) but that there is a much wider range in their abilities in Maths with some highly expert and others completely at a loss.

Although it doesn't relate wholly to Maths I found those questions in aptitude tests about spotting which shape was the odd one out or next in a sequence very difficult and very frustrating. Sometimes I would get them right but only have studying them for a long time. Often I would just give up and guess. I was far more comfortable with the questions about numbers.

In an ideal world I'd like to study Applied Maths (and Physics) with a teacher and I think it might overcome some of the difficulties I mentioned earlier. Sometimes even a little teaching can make a big difference if the core abilities and interest are there to be unlocked. The ideas of other students can also be helpful. As David mentioned teaching and classes don't work for everybody and those with AS may be more comfortable learning alone than others but I still feel they generally benefit from some teaching and sharing ideas with others.

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Dr-David-Banner

"I''m not a technically-minded person and my spatial skills are poor"

Remember, with autism, the teaching system may have left you behind from the onset. Schools used to expect students to just adapt or be placed in lower class levels. I read recently my old school had been demolished. It was described in wiki as a reasonable school where the struggling working classes sent their kids.
Someone with an autism condition in a school is unlikely to be on a level playing ground. John Lennon had dyslexia and did poorly at school and in later years he complained nobody ever picked up on his talent for art.
An autist can reach adulthood with lingering deficits. Plus weaknesses. We're geared to learn in the early years of education and, if something goes wrong, it becomes harder to correct the imbalance. So, maths for me was a huge battle. I was using my brain in ways it had never been familiar with so I'd get blocks. One huge advantage though was I've gradually over time come to understand how I tick. The extent to which I need "visual" materials. I also very recently started to understand where my deficits lie and the huge impact of autism in the context of education. To the point that I probably gravitate between HFA and LA with "late development" or possibly I had HFA with ADHD thrown in.
Here are my existing deficits as they stand today:
(1) Lack of motivation or concentration in physical tasks. I notice NTs get absorbed far more in physical, hands-on projects. Yet less concentration in bookish, schematic approaches.
Conclusion. My strengths will be in theory and my productiveness or employability will be less.
(2) Very poor ability in fast, problem solving scenarios in normal work. It's too fast and I get overloaded by stress if there's rapid social interaction.
Conclusion: forget bar work, till work, practical task solving. Look at translation or proof-reading, journalism and so on.
(3) Very poor spatial skills (you can test yourself at ping pong).
(4) Chronic inability to organise myself or keep myself orderly. Papers strewn all over the place. Seeming inability to present higher level of personal hygiene. All my female friends seem to easily stay clean and tidy. They keep advising but my mind seems to over-focus on my projects till I realise my surroundings (and appearance) are chaos.
My point is we have deficits in many areas of functionality. We may assume we are poor at maths yet it may be a matter of accumulated deficits. The longer the deficit endures,, the tougher it is to fix it. We may need to juggle our way to a middle path where we try to guage our strengths and options.

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Sanctuary

It's certainly true that some of the deficits we have may be alleviated (if not overcome entirely) by more appropriate and supportive teaching. When I was at school the attitude often seemed to be that someone who struggled with a subject was simply not very good or even "thick" or "lazy" and their struggles were essentially down to them. There was no real concept of special educational needs except for those with very profound difficulties who were often sent to "special schools". AS would have been unheard of. I think schools and the attitudes of teachers have changed profoundly in recent times and there are far greater efforts to help struggling students, whether their difficulties are related to learning or other issues including AS. My difficulties with more technical and practical subjects might therefore have been better addressed in schools today but I'm aware that members who've been educated more recently may feel there are still problems. As regards Maths I generally did well so my difficulties with a few topics may have slipped under the radar.

You also make a good point about the issue of speed. This may be the greatest problem faced by workers (and students) with AS today. They may be able to do tasks to a very high standard (sometimes after a delayed and protracted learning process) but struggle to do them at the speed required by employers. Demands for extra speed may lead to poorer performance and stress. Employers may also expect a speed of adapting to new methods that leaves workers with AS adrift. Being open about AS and asking for extra consideration on these issues may be helpful but there is no guarantee that employers will be accommodating.

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Dr-David-Banner

By the way, Grigory Perelman, the maths genius, is suspected of being on the autism spectrum. He is poor and solitary and lives in St Petersburg. Quote Baron Cohen:
""Virtually everything people have recounted to me about Perelman's behavior... fits the typical picture of a person with Asperger's syndrome. His apparent disregard for conventions of personal hygiene is common to Aspergerians, who perceive it as a nuisance forced upon them by the incomprehensible world of social mores. The trouble he had with articulating his solutions to problems is also classic. `People with Asperger's often put in far too much detail,' said Baron-Cohen. `They don't know what to leave out. They are not taking into account what the listener needs to know.' That is the theory of mind problem: the point of telling is not to get the point across, but solely to tell. Schoolmates told me Grisha was always willing to answer questions about mathematics; the problem arose if the questioner did not understand the explanation. `He was very patient,' a former classmate recalled. `He would just repeat the exact explanation, again and again. It was as though he could not imagine that somebody found it hard to understand.' She was probably exactly right: he really could not imagine it."
 

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Dr-David-Banner

This is for those who DO have dyscalculia. It's a demo of visual thinking to show how numbers can be simplified:
We take one apple and cut it into 1OO pieces. Our goal is to numerically represent either all the bits together or just varied fragments. To represent all the bits back together we use 1. Anything less we need a zero O. Easy so far.
To make it easy we group all the segments into batches of 1O. We should wind up with ten batches of ten segments. If we wish to numerically show just one batch of ten the digit is O.1 This is ten apple segments or a tenth. So, how could we numerically write 4O segments? Answer O.4
Here is the task: What is the closest we can get to 1 apple?
If we take nine batches of ten fragments we get 9O fragments. That would be O.9
That leaves still ten fragments short. As each individual segment is a hundrdth, the best we can do is O.99 that is nine tenths and nine hundredths. Or 9O and nine segments.
Now we are just one segment short of one apple. Yet we can get closer still O.999 Now we have nine batches of ten segments O.9 Then we have 9 more segments O.99 And finally we supplied nine tenths of the very last segment. Thus O.999 is like bundling all the segments together and one segment has still just a tiny bit missing from it.
This is how I worked on my dyscalculia. It's geared to understanding and imagery.

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Sanctuary
15 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

By the way, Grigory Perelman, the maths genius, is suspected of being on the autism spectrum. He is poor and solitary and lives in St Petersburg. Quote Baron Cohen:
""Virtually everything people have recounted to me about Perelman's behavior... fits the typical picture of a person with Asperger's syndrome. His apparent disregard for conventions of personal hygiene is common to Aspergerians, who perceive it as a nuisance forced upon them by the incomprehensible world of social mores. The trouble he had with articulating his solutions to problems is also classic. `People with Asperger's often put in far too much detail,' said Baron-Cohen. `They don't know what to leave out. They are not taking into account what the listener needs to know.' That is the theory of mind problem: the point of telling is not to get the point across, but solely to tell. Schoolmates told me Grisha was always willing to answer questions about mathematics; the problem arose if the questioner did not understand the explanation. `He was very patient,' a former classmate recalled. `He would just repeat the exact explanation, again and again. It was as though he could not imagine that somebody found it hard to understand.' She was probably exactly right: he really could not imagine it."

I certainly have a tendency for my accounts on almost any topic to be too long. Often the core ideas are quite concise but then the extra details and analysis flood out. While those extras are sometimes useful they can result in a much less effective piece of communication - communication involves judging what your specific "audience" needs to know and delivering it in the most accessible manner. This is certainly not about being superficial or "dumbing down" but giving people what they need to know for their purposes. We know from our own experience that it can be frustrating when someone gives a long-winded or overly-complex account when we need something more direct and specific to our needs.

I can be concise when required and my accounts are generally better for this. I'm certainly aware of going into too much detail and benefit from greater brevity. However there can be an over-compensation where the account is too brief and doesn't provide the clearest explanation. I do try alternative explanations with different approaches and examples but these are often no better and can end up being confusing. All this comes back to the AS difficulty in judging what others are looking for. Accounts can end up being too complex, too basic, too long or too short. Explaining things is hard for anyone (harder than most realise) but harder for those with AS.

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Dr-David-Banner

The study of what defines "intelligence" is fascinating. The reason it captivates me is because I realised I'm very unlike most aspies in as much as I had early educational disability. Pretty much all AS people did well at school. You can ask anyone here on the site and nearly all will inform you school ran pretty smoothly. With the one exception a higher percentage will state maths was an issue. For me, only reading was my strong point after a short delay.
What strikes me as odder was I somehow later in life discovered an alternative way to process information. This excluded other people. It was more internalised. Maths was the last hurdle. I needed some maths for electrical sciences so I addressed my dyscalculia. It was really tough going. Bear in mind the brain was never designed to "catch up". It's assumed (period!) any aptitude for learning will be detected at an early age. Despite all the hype about Einstein being slow, his overall early academic record was promising. Yes, he did learn to read and speak late. And, yes, he indeed flunked a fairly basic exam in electrical engineering so was then excluded as mediocre. He was forced to resort to self-study but the engineering exam failure was only a low point in a relatively promising school history. Final point - Einstein struggled to get good at maths.
The researcher I follow from Holland Paul Cooijman and possibly on the spectrum was an "A" rate student from the outset. He's a musician, intelligence researcher and studies Asperger Syndrome, Savant Syndrome and so on. According to Cooijman people with AS often have strong "associative horizon" which means they tend to be able to connect the dots of a larger dimension picture. They can often see how "A" relates to "B".
This subject is more fascinating than imagined. That is, how to define intelligence. I recall a girl I fancied like crazy in a biology class and she was taking Biology and Psychology. All her grades were "A" yet she didn't need to work and just partied a lot. If there was an exam, she'd finish before the others after 2O minutes. She was a lot smarter than me, had no dyscalculia and, of course, I failed my first year biology. Yet some autists where they lack raw intelligence, they are sometimes very persistant. The big bonus is the "associative horizon" too and the tendency to explore new perspectives. I think the Columbo series really highlighted this as Lieutenant Columbo tended to just notice things. In one episode it was merely the fact some shoelaces on a murder victim weren't tied in the normal way (but by a third party).
Final point: Almost always intelligence is evaluated by how fast a child assimilates and understands information. Most aspies do not have obstacles here (except often in maths). If a child doesn't react and respond to teaching effectively, (as remarked above) he, or she, is considered to be "slow". Or in our former schools "thick". Very definitely social intelligence always merges with intellectual. We're meant to listen to the teacher, bond with the teacher, work collectively and win reputation so we can be packed off to Harvard.


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Nesf
14 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

Pretty much all AS people did well at school. You can ask anyone here on the site and nearly all will inform you school ran pretty smoothly

No, I don't think this is true. If school had gone so well for them, it is unlikely that they would be diagnosed with an ASD. Having significant difficulty with one's environment, at school, in the family and in the workplace later in life, is a key part of their diagnosis. One doesn't get a diagnosis for school to have gone smoothly. Some might have had good academic results, but all going through mainstream schooling will have had some significant social difficulties, that is the definition of the diagnosis.

You studied at university. I don't think that you could have done all that badly academically at school, otherwise you wouldn't have been accepted and gone to university.

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Gone away
16 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

Pretty much all AS people did well at school. You can ask anyone here on the site and nearly all will inform you school ran pretty smoothly

I think thats ignorant, dangerous and probably ableist rubbish ... and certainly not related to my experience.
School was a solitary nightmare where it was impossible to fit into anything, which naturally impacted an ability to learn whilst almost completely shut down.
I left a year before I was legally supposed to and the last 6 years of school were certainly very damaging.
Granted I was schooled in the corporal punishment era where peoples differences were not accommodated and physical and mental abuse was very common ... school running smoothly? certainly not ...

Edited by Gone home

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Dr-David-Banner

"You studied at university. I don't think that you could have done all that badly academically at school, otherwise you wouldn't have been accepted and gone to university."
I went in under unusual circumstances. I first had to pass an English Language exam and my options were then limited to a minority language, not French or German. I didn't have the background. I was also enrolled on Foundation Year which was a prep year you had to pass. I then failed the whole thing. It was a disaster. I didn't understand at that time I'd attempted to go back to classes but it would never work. I winded up with an official letter requiring me to withdraw. I was persuaded to appeal and in unusual circumstances I was let in. Despite all the exam bombs, my score in my one chosen subject was very high.
As to the other points these seem to be addressing social interaction more than learning. Disruptive education due to poor interaction is disruption. Most aspies otherwise tend to get good grades. There is no cognitive shortcoming or disability, unless you have a comorbid condition.

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